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Jesus of Nazareth Biography

Born: 4 B.C.E.
Bethlehem, Judea
Died: c. 29 C.E.
Jerusalem, Judea

Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus

Christ, was the central personality and
founder of the Christian faith.
Early Years:
Jesus first came to general attention at the time of his
baptism just prior to his public ministry. He was
known to those around him as a carpenter of
Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and as the son of Joseph
(John 6:42). Matthew and Luke report that Jesus was
born in Bethlehem, famous in Jewish history as the
city of David. They further report that he was
miraculously born to the Virgin Mary, although they
both curiously trace his kinship to David through
Joseph, to whom Mary was engaged. It is likely that
Jesus was born not later than 4 B.C.E. , the year of
King Herod's death
Little is known of Jesus' childhood and youth. The
letters of Paul are the earliest biblical records that tell
about Jesus. But the four biblical Gospels by Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John, although written later, used
sources that in some cases go back very close to the
time of Jesus. But about the year 28 or 29 C.E. his life
interacted with the career of John the Baptist. Jesus
heard John's preaching and joined the crowds for
baptism in the Jordan River. Following his baptism
Jesus went into the desert for prayer and
The Miracles:
The records concerning Jesus report many miracles (an
event that goes against the laws of nature and has
suggested divine influence). For centuries most people
in civilizations influenced by the Bible not only
believed literally in the miracles but took them as
proof that Jesus had supernatural (something that is
not normal, possibly with a spiritual influence) power.
Then, in an age of reason and distrust, men often
doubted the miracles and exposed the reports as
dishonest. However, usually the Gospels report the
healings as signs of the power of
God and His coming kingdom.
Teachings of Jesus:
Jesus taught people in small groups or large
gatherings; his lessons are reported in friendly
conversations or in arguments with those who
challenged him. At times he made a particularly vivid
comment in the midst of a dramatic incident.

The starting point of Jesus' message, as already noted,

was the announcement of the coming of the kingdom
of God. Since this kingdom was neither a
geographical area nor a system of government, a
better translation may be "God's reign"
(God being in existence everywhere).
The rest of Jesus' teaching followed from this message
about the reign of God. At times he taught in stories
or parables that described the kingdom or the
behavior of people who acknowledged God's reign. At
times he pronounced moral commandments detailing
the demands upon men of a loving and righteous God.
At times Jesus taught his disciples to pray: the words
that he gave them in the Lord's Prayer are often used
Passion Week:
On the day now known as Palm Sunday, Jesus entered
Jerusalem, while his disciples and the crowds hailed him as
the Son of David, who came in the name of the Lord. The
next day Jesus went to the Temple and drove out the
money-changers and those who sold pigeons for sacrifices,
accusing them of turning "a house of prayer" into a "den of
robbers." This act was a direct challenge to the small group
of priests who were in charge of the Temple, and they
clearly took offense to it. During the following days he
entered into disagreements with the priests and teachers
of religion. Their anger led them to plot to get rid of him,
but they hesitated to do anything in the daytime, since
many people were gathered for the feast of Passover (a
Jewish religious holiday).
On Thursday night Jesus had a meal with his disciples.
This meal is now re-enacted by Christians in the Lord's
Supper, the Mass, or the Holy Communion. After the
meal Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where
he prayed alone. His prayer shows that he expected a
conflict, that he still hoped he might avoid suffering,
but he expected to do God's will. There into the
garden one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, led the
priests and the temple soldiers, who seized Jesus.
That same night Jesus' captors took him to a trial
before the temple court, the Sanhedrin. Much
evidence indicates that this was an illegal trial, but the
Sanhedrin declared that Jesus was a blasphemer (a
person who claims to be God or godlike) deserving
death. Since at that time only the Roman overlords
(supreme lords) could carry out a death sentence, the
priests took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor of
Pilate apparently was reluctant to convict Jesus, since
it was doubtful Jesus had disobeyed any Roman laws.
Jesus, however, represented a threat to both the
Sanhedrin and the Romans. Pilate thus ordered the
crucifixion of Jesus. Roman soldiers beat him, put a
crown of thorns on his head, and mocked him as a
false king. Then they took him to the hill Golgotha
("the Skull"), or Calvary, and killed him. Pilate ordered
a sign placed above his head: "King of the Jews." Jesus
died and that same day (now known as Good Friday)
was buried in a cave-like tomb.
The Resurrection:
On Sunday morning (now celebrated as Easter), the
Gospels report, Jesus rose from the dead and met his
disciples. Others immediately rejected the claim of the
resurrection, and the debate has continued through
the centuries.
The New Testament states very clearly that the risen
Christ did not appear to everybody. Among those who
saw Jesus were Cephas (Peter), the twelve disciples,
"more than five hundred brethren at one time,"
James, and finally Paul. Other records tell of
appearances to Mary Magdalene and other women
and of a variety of meetings with the disciples.
The four Gospels all say that the tomb of Jesus was empty
on Easter morning. None of the records ever tells of an
appearance of the risen Christ to anyone who had not been
a follower of Jesus or (like Paul) had not been deeply
disturbed by him.
The evidence is very clear that the followers of Jesus were
absolutely convinced of his resurrection. The experience of
the risen Jesus was so overwhelming that it turned their
despair into courage. The disciples spread the conviction
that he had risen, and they continued to tell their story at
the cost of persecution and death. The faith in the
resurrection of Jesus, despite differences in
interpretation and detail, is a major reason for the
rise and spread of the Christian faith.
Mary of Nazareth Biography
Born: September 8 (Traditional)
18 B.C., Nazareth Galilee

Died: Unknown

Mary was the mother of the Messiah,

Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Mary was a young girl, probably only about 12 or 13
years old when the angel Gabriel came to her. She had
recently become engaged to a carpenter named
Joseph. Mary was an ordinary Jewish girl, looking
forward to marriage. Suddenly her life would forever
be changed.

Although Mary's life held great honor, her calling

would demand great suffering as well. Just as there is
pain in childbirth and motherhood, there would be
much pain in the privilege of being the mother of the
Birth of Jesus:
According to the Gospel of Luke, a decree of the
Roman Emperor Augustus required that Joseph return
to his hometown of Bethlehem to register for a
Roman census. While he was there with Mary, she
gave birth to Jesus; but because there was no place for
them in the inn, she used a manger as a cradle. After
eight days, he was circumcised according to Jewish
law, and named "Jesus", which means "Yahweh is
In the Life of Jesus:
Mary is involved in the only event in Jesus' adolescent
life that is recorded in the New Testament. At the age
of twelve, Jesus, having become separated from his
parents on their return journey from the Passover
celebration in Jerusalem, was found in the Temple
among the religious teachers
Mary was present when, at her suggestion, Jesus
worked his first miracle during a wedding at Cana by
turning water into wine
After the Ascension of Jesus:
In Acts 1:26, especially v. 14, Mary is the only one
other than the eleven apostles to be mentioned by
name who abode in the upper room, when they
returned from Mount Olive. Some speculate that the
"elect lady" mentioned in 2 John 1:1 may be Mary.
From this time, she disappears from the biblical
accounts, although it is held by Catholics that she is
again portrayed as the heavenly woman of